If you’ve already taken the AncestryDNA test, you may think you’re done. You could DNA test your other family members, but they will have similar results as you, right? Well, not quite.
You inherited your DNA from your ancestors and so did the rest of your family, but like most inheritances, it can be complex. It’s true, you share DNA with your family, but each of you gets a unique mix and different amounts from your ancestors. The closer you can get to a DNA source, and the more sources you can identify, the more you can learn about your family.
Why test a family member?
1. Go back further in time with older relatives
By testing the “oldest” DNA in the family tree, you get the strongest connection to the past. Consider this: a fourth cousin to you is a third cousin to your parent and a second cousin to your grandparent. Because the relationship is closer, you can go further back in time with more confidence by testing older relatives. So it always makes sense to test the oldest living relatives in your family tree on all of your branches.
2. Pinpoint new cousins on your family tree
Think of your family tree. It starts with you, then immediately splits into two branches: your paternal and your maternal relatives. You got DNA from both sides—but your parents didn’t. Having them tested lets you divide your tree in half: you can assign one set of matches to your dad’s side and the other to your mom’s. Get your grandparents tested, and you can divide your DNA matches in fourths. If some of your great-grandparents are still alive…well, you get the idea. And testing gets really exciting.
3. Find more cousins
Depending on who you test in your family, you could have some of the same DNA matches, which can give you clues on who the shared ancestor is for that match. But remember, DNA is mixed and inherited differently across your tree. So your family members may have matches that you don’t, which could mean new discoveries in your family tree as well.
4. Have some fun
Getting other family members involved in your family history research is just downright fun. You can compare your ethnicity results to see who got what mix of ethnicities. And hey, DNA may even confirm you’re related! All joking aside, DNA is a cool new technology that can get the rest of your family more interested in their ancestors. Trust us; we’ve seen it happen.
See how it can work for you.
Watch this short video to see the power of having your other family members tested.
OK, so who do I test?
Here are some specific benefits of testing other family members.
You get half your DNA from Mom and half from Dad. One of the most powerful benefits of having their DNA tested is being able to assign a DNA match to a specific branch of your family tree. Also, you can dig into the other half of their DNA that you didn’t get. Odds are they will have DNA matches that you don’t have. Imagine the possibilities!
If you’re lucky enough to still have living grandparents, having their DNA tested can pay even bigger dividends than testing your parents. Remember, not only does it allow you to assign matches to even more specific branches of your tree, but your grandparents’ DNA has mixed once since coming down to your parents and twice since coming down to you. So while your DNA can give you high confidence matches 5–6 generations back, your grandparents’ DNA matches can connect you 7–8 generations back with that same level of high confidence.
You probably have a lot of things in common with your spouse, but DNA matches are not usually one of them. Your DNA test won’t help trace your spouse’s family tree. And having your spouse tested can also be lots of fun. You can compare your ethnicity results, confirm you’re not 1st cousins (fingers crossed!), see who gets the most matches, and share your findings with the rest of your family. If you have children, testing both you and your spouse’s DNA can help paint the picture of the heritage you each passed down to them.
Unless you are an identical twin, your siblings received a different mix of DNA from your parents than you did. While results can be similar between siblings, ethnicities can vary, and a sibling may also connect to a DNA match that you do not. This may seem counterintuitive, but remember, DNA inheritance is complex and involves a great deal of randomness. Testing a sibling opens the possibility for you to discover new cousins and new insights into ethnicity, especially if your parents aren’t available to test.
Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins
Your aunts and uncles have a significant link to you and can be a great proxy for your parents’ and grandparents’ DNA. You will likely share similar matches, which can help determine which branch of your family tree a match belongs to. Like your parents, grandparents, and siblings, their matches could also lead you to new discoveries in your family tree. And it’s a great way to get others in the family involved in your family history research.